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Is that a goatee on your lady garden?

My father has a goatee beard and it’s been a while since I’ve had a wax.

The point of giving you this information is so you’ll understand this: I knew my 19-month-old daughter (The Sprout)  had started to register an awareness of what my body looked like when she watched me step out of the shower, pointed to my nether regions and exclaimed “Grandpa!”

That was two weeks ago. This week I finally visited my local house of wax. This morning when I stepped out of the shower, The Sprout pointed to where ‘Grandpa’ used to be and simply said “Gone!” So now I’m pondering the question: to wax or not to wax? Do I keep clearing my old growth forest or do I leave it there for (my) future generations to see?

My concern is that by continuing to wax any part of my body, I’m setting my daughter up with the notion that hairlessness is the norm. When puberty hits and she starts to get her fuzz on, is my preference for hair removal going to make her feel like she has to do and look the same?

The fact is that I’ve waxed for years and only because that’s how I like me. Magazines have never made me feel pressured to do it. My peers – of both sexes – have never made me feel pressured to do it. If anyone’s to blame it would probably have to be my beauty therapist, who while doing my standard bikini wax one day asked “Would you like to try taking a bit more off?” And even she wasn’t pressuring me: I’m pretty sure she was probably just trying her luck on getting more revenue out of my appointments. “Would you like to try taking a bit more off” was just her version of “Would you like fries with that?” (Or perhaps it was more like a McDonald’s upsize that, ironically, involved a downsize of my ladygarden.)

My husband doesn’t care whether I do it or not. In fact, I just checked with him and he reckons he has “no preference.” (Between you and me, in light of my fall-into-bed-every-night-completely-exhausted status since The Sprout’s arrival I think The Bloke’s just happy to get continued visitation rights to the area.)

So I’m well and truly just clearing the undergrowth for myself – but my daughter is paying attention. She’s also forming who-knows-what kind of ideas about what female bodies look like inside her little but highly receptive brain. Sure, at 19-months-old she’s not thinking about the implications of or reasons for my lack of nether-fleece. She’s just noticed that it used to be there and now it’s not. And now that I’ve secured once-a-week childcare that will enable me to keep regular appointments if I want to, chances are that from now on it won’t be there.

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Mind you, that’s if I keep it up. Now that I know The Sprout’s registered what I look like, I’m not sure whether to continue waxing or not. Whereas I’ve always waxed regardless of what anyone else thought, I’m now reconsidering whether or not to wax because of what someone might think. Do I refrain in order to provide her with an example of what a “normal” female body looks like? (Although come to think of it, what does a “normal” female body look like?) Do I continue helping pay my beauty therapist’s mortgage but when The Sprout gets old enough to understand, explain that the reason I pay her is because I’m a Virgo and I just like everything neat and tidy? How do I explain the fact that not everyone agrees with me: “Well, darling, some women look like Mummy does down there and some women look like Hairy Maclary – both are ok.”

You could argue that if I’m really worried about this I should just put an end to The Sprout ever seeing me naked but I’d argue that’s just avoiding the issue. She’s probably not in danger of having body image issues at the age of 19 months but as she grows up I would think that it’s important to create and maintain an open environment as far as learning and discussion about bits and bodies go. (Not that I plan on swanning around the house starkers through her formative years in order to facilitate such discussions, of course. I’m just saying I don’t want to do anything to shy away from them.)

For the time being at least, I’m still waxing. Waxing and hoping that the next time The Sprout sees her grandpa she doesn’t point to his beard and then point to the front of my pants while exclaiming “Gone!”

Do you take it all off ?  Have you ever had to explain to your children why you have no hair there?

Terri writes here and you can find out more about her book here